The article below refers to a previous Arsenal-Chelsea game. You can watch the latest Arsenal-Chelsea game here.
Arsenal (Walcott 18′) 1-2 Chelsea (Malouda 33′, Drogba 84′)
Stadium: Wembley Stadium, England
Competition: F.A. Cup Semifinals
Date: 18 April 2009
Kickoff: 17:15, GMT, 12:15 EST
Chelsea are heading to the F.A. Cup Final as they got a huge comeback victory against Arsenal at Wembley! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments!
Last season’s F.A. Cup competition was marked by incredible upsets and Cinderella stories, epitomizing the “anything-can-happen” feel of the tournament. This season, however, we have the exact opposite situation as four of the biggest clubs in England will do battle in the Semifinals. In the first semifinal, Arsenal and Chelsea, two local rivals who have had a lot of recent history against one another, will clash for the right to compete in the Finals with either Manchester United or Everton.
Arsenal haven’t won any silverware since winning this competition in 2004-2005. Their poor form at the beginning of the season led many people to think what had heretofore been unthinkable: Could Arsene Wenger’s job be in danger? However, an excellent run of recent form has quieted the doubters as Arsenal have a chance at a Champions League/F.A. Cup Double. New signee Andrei Arshavin has fit in nicely, while the return of skipper Cesc Fabregas has the offense clicking once again. The only question, right now, is in the back, where Arsenal’s defense is being held together with duct tape and rubber bands. Deposed skipper William Gallas, who had been playing extremely well as of late, is out for the season. Gael Clichy is fighting a back injury, and Bacary Sagna missed Wednesday’s win over Villarreal with a virus. Arsenal made due with Kolo Toure, Mikael Silvestre, Emmanuel Eboue, and Kieran Gibbs in the back, and it’s possible that the same foursome will have to come up big once again, this time against Chelsea.
Chelsea have bounced back well from the disaster that was the Scolari Era and are gunning for their second F.A. Cup in three years. However, despite all of Hiddink’s early success, there are signs that all might not be well at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s defense has been sieve-like as of late, conceding 7 goals over it’s last 110-plus minutes. Having Ricardo Carvalho back to partner John Terry should help. Jose Bosingwa is still a question-mark after sitting out Tuesday’s Champions League win over Liverpool with a strained hamstring. With all of their defensive woes, it’s a good thing that they’ve been scoring goals at a torrid pace. Since Scolari’s final match in charge, a scoreless draw with Hull City, Chelsea have scored 27 goals and haven’t been shut out. Hiddink’s preferred formation, which is really just a modified version of the same 4-3-3 that Scolari used, has seemed to click and he’s getting great performances out of Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, and even from Solomon Kalou and Florent Malouda. If their offense continues to play well, then it could be a long day for Arsenal’s depleted defense.
These clubs have had a lot of history in recent years. Unlike other top-flight rivals, Arsenal and Chelsea haven’t been afraid to trade players. In addition to the much ballyhooed Ashley Cole/William Gallas swap in 2006, Lassana Diarra made the move from Stamford Bridge to the Emirates in 2007. Chelsea striker Nicholas Anelka has also played for both squads, although he made a number of stops after leaving Arsenal. There was a lot of bad blood between the two clubs during the Mourinho Era at Chelsea. The Special One referred to Arsene Wenger as a “voyeur” and the two clubs infamously engaged in an ill-tempered Carling Cup Final in 2007 (won by Chelsea) in which Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, and John Obi Mikel were sent off.
This season, Arsenal outplayed Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and won 2-1, on the strength of a brace from Robin Van Persie. Will Arsenal repeat the feat and take one step closer to securing its first piece of silverware since 2005? Or will Chelsea deny them like they did in 2007? Tune in and find out!
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Arsenal: Fabianski, Eboue, Toure, Silvestre, Gibbs, Walcott, Fabregas (c), Diaby, Denilson, Van Persie, Adebayor.
Subs: Mannone, Nasri, Vela, Ramsey, Song Billong, Arshavin, Bendtner.
As expected, not too many changes in the back for Arsenal, as they’re using any defender that has a pulse at this point. Two changes from the side that defeated Villarreal in midweek, as Song and Nasri will be replaced by Diaby and Denilson. Arsenal fans waiting to see how Fabregas, Van Persie, and Arshavin would co-exist will be disappointed, at least from the start of the match. I’d expect to see the Russian playmaker at some point in this match, especially if Arsenal fall behind.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry (c), A. Cole, Ballack, Lampard, Essien, Malouda, Anelka, Drogba.
Subs: Hilario, Carvalho, Di Santo, Mikel, Kalou, Belletti, Mancienne.
Two changes for Chelsea from the side that ousted Liverpool in midweek. Terry reclaims his spot after serving his suspension, but it’s Carvalho that will sit out and not Alex. The other big change is up front, where Anelka will start in place of Kalou. It looked like Hiddink was moving away from the idea of using Anelka on the wing, but he probably changed his mind after watching how well Chelsea started playing once Anelka came in for Kalou on Tuesday.
90′ + 4 There will be another minute or so, due to the stoppage of play. Arsenal desperately try to get forward, but Chelsea do well to get in front of all their passes. There’s the whistle, and we’re done! Chelsea will play in the Final, and Arsenal will have a lot to think about as they turn their attentions to Europe. Thanks to everyone who followed along! Join me tomorrow as Manchester United will take on Everton in the other F.A. Cup Semifinal!
90′ + 2 Arshavin sends in the corner, and Cech flaps helplessly at the near-post. It’s cleared away towards Arshavin, who whips in another cross. Cech punches this one away, decisively, and several players from both teams are down on the pitch after they collide near the goal.
90′ + 1 Three minutes will be added on. Chelsea win a free kick at the center line, but they seem inclined to take their time. Bendtner gets away from Cole and makes a good run down the right. He sends a cross to the far post, but Arshavin can’t handle it cleanly. He finally takes his shot, but it’s knocked out for a corner.
90′ Walcott sends in a cross from the right edge of the box towards Bendtner, but it’s over his head and he flails, comically at the ball with his hand. That’s from the Paul Scholes School of Soccer. Chelsea give it away in their box, but Arsenal fail to take advantage of it.
89′ Wenger is going to have to answer a lot of questions about his team selection here. Not sure why he took off Adebayor, nor why Nasri and Arshavin weren’t starting. Nothing he could do about Fabianski, though.
88′ Arshavin gets it on the edge of the box, but excellent defending from Alex as he muscles the Russian off the ball. Essien goes on the counter-attack, but he gives it away to Silvestre. Meanwhile, Toure hacks out at Drogba, and he’s rightly booked for it.
86′ Drogba took off his shirt after that score, so he’ll get booked for that. Not like he cares, though. Meanwhile, Nasri is coming on for Arsenal. Throw-in deep in Arsenal territory, and Ivanovic flicks it back to Essien. He fires a shot way off target, though, and Nasri will come on for Denilson.
84′ GOAL! Arsenal will really be praying for Almunia’s quick recovery now. Long pass from Lampard and Drogba makes a nice run to get away from Silvestre and Eboue. Fabianski comes out and whiffs terribly on it, and Drogba has the easiest tap-in ever for the score!
83′ Surprisingly, it’s Adebayor that will make way for Bendtner, and not surprisingly, the two of them don’t exactly share a hug as they make the switch.
82′ Kalou looks like he’s coming on for Chelsea. Probably for Anelka. Bendtner is also getting loose for Arsenal. Indeed, it’s Anelka that will make way for Kalou.
81′ Drogba draws a foul from Silvestre, and Chelsea have a free kick from about 40 yards out. Lampard sends the free kick from the right flank to the far post towards Ivanovic, but it’s out for a goal-kick.
79′ Another miscue from Eboue as he muffs his clearance and pops it into the air. Drogba gets it deep down the left edge of the box, but Toure does well to run him out of bounds. I have to say, Arsenal’s defense has been terrible today. How they’re still in this match is beyond me.
77′ Fabregas, who has been very quiet today, tries to get away from Terry, but Terry muscles him off the ball. Fabregas then takes his fellow skipper down, and he’s called for the foul.
75′ Van Persie calls for a penalty in the box as he feels like he’s impeded by Alex. No call, though, and that’s it for the Dutchman as Arshavin is coming in for him.
74′ Lampard’s kick hits the wall and Walcott has it on a counterattack. He goes it alone, but the Chelsea defenders do well.
73′ Here we go, and Denilson is called for a foul on Lampard, and he’s booked. He and some of his teammates circle the ref and it looks like Denilson pushes the ref. He’s lucky he only got a yellow, then.
70′ Sorry, I had some issues with my feed. Back now.
67′ Fabulous move by Chelsea as Lampard slides it wide to Drogba, who immediately crosses back for Lampard, who volleys wide. That looked like a goal.
63′ Van Persie sends in the corner, but Ivanovic heads it away.
62′ Denilson loses it at the center-line, and Anelka takes it. He tries to pass it to Essien, but it’s behind him, and he can’t get to it. That was a waste. Meanwhile, Walcott sends in a nice pass to Fabregas deep inside the box, but Malouda blatantly shoves him to the ground. No foul, but it’s a corner. Not sure how the ref missed that one.
59′ Nice run into the box by Diaby and he sends it to Adebayor. He lays it off to his right for Walcott, who then whips a dangerous cross to the far post for a sliding Van Persie. He can’t get a touch on it, though, and it’s out for a goal-kick. That was close.
57′ Terry looks like he’ll be okay, so we play on. Walcott gets closed down by Cole, but Walcott manages to wiggle away. Malouda is there to cover for Cole, though, and he forces Walcott to put it out for a goal-kick.
55′ Chelsea knock the corner around and win another one. This one goes out to the edge of the box for Terry, but his header is blocked by the defense. Arsenal try a counterattack and Eboue makes the run down the right. Cole does well to take it away from him, though, and Chelsea have it back. Terry, meanwhile, is down and he’s complaining about his ankle. Looks like he jarred it after his earlier header attempt.
54′ Lampard picks Denilson’s pocket and he sends it to Anelka in the box. He and Drogba play a nice one-two and it ends up with Lampard. He tries a shot but it’s out for a corner.
52′ Nice little back-heel flick by Gibbs and he springs Denilson (who I forgot was playing). He gets a pass into the box for Adebayor, but Terry has him well marked. Adebayor gets a weak shot that doesn’t do anything to threaten Cech.
49′ Walcott takes it away from Essien and he’s off to the races. Cole does well to keep up with him, and Walcott ends up swinging a cross that finds no one. Say what you will about Cole, but the guy has wheels.
48′ Van Persie serves it into the box, but Terry heads it away. Long pass into the box from Diaby to Van Persie at the far post. He sends it back Adebayor, who is unmarked on the edge of the box. His shot is well off the mark, though, and doesn’t trouble Cech at all.
47′ Eboue gets it down the right, and there are some boo-birds taking flight. Meanwhile, Diaby wins a free kick from about 40 yards out or so.
46′ Chelsea kick off and we’re underway. No changes for either side. Looks like my feed is a couple minutes behind the action, so bear with me here.
46′ They show the replay of the Malouda goal, and I take back what I said. While Eboue was at fault for his nonexistent marking, Fabianski had no business getting beaten to his near post like that. I actually thought, before this match, that going from Almunia to Fabianski wasn’t that big of a drop-off. I will humbly eat my own words now…
It’s been a fairly even match, so far, as neither side has established much in terms of offensive flow. Both sides had their chances and the scoreline accurately reflects that. Chelsea will feel unfortunate not to have taken more advantage of Arsenal’s shakiness on defense, while Arsenal will be kicking themselves for not taking advantage of Chelsea’s slow start. Hopefully, both teams will be settled down after playing a half, and we should be in for a great second 90 minutes.
45′ + 2 That ends as Chelsea go on the attack. Anelka gets a weak header near the post, but it’s easily handled by Fabianski. There’s the whistle, and we’re at halftime!
45′ + 1 Chelsea are playing keep-away and they seem content to wait for the whistle.
45′ Two minutes will be added on.
44′ Ballack with a late tackle on Fabregas and the ref gives them the advantage. Ballack is due for, at least, a talking to here. Terry cuts out the attack and Chelsea break. Essien takes a long-range shot, but it’s easily saved by Fabianski. Once play stops, the ref calls Ballack over and it’ll be yellow for the German skipper. He was due for one, with the way he was going.
41′ Essien threads it through into the box for Anelka, but it’s just long and he can’t handle it. Ballack sends it into the box for Lampard, but he’s flagged offside. He waves his finger disapprovingly, but that’s all.
40′ Eboue plays it to Walcott down the right, but his cross to the far post for Adebayor is well off the mark.
38′ Ivanovic with a hard tackle on Van Persie, and he’s booked for the infraction. I bet Arsene Wenger screams bloody murder about that during his post-match press conference.
37′ More poor Arsenal defending as Gibbs sends it to Diaby, and Diaby lackadaisically holds it. Anelka takes it away inside the box and he gets a shot on goal that beats Fabianski and goes off the far post!
36′ Another shaky moment as Silvestre sends a weak back-pass to Fabianski that Drogba nearly intercepts. Meanwhile, the announcers are really giving Fabianski hell for that goal, but I think it was Eboue’s fault.
35′ Drogba stands over it and he plays it into the box, but Van Persie ultimately sends it away. Strange. You don’t see Drogba serve it into the box like that very often. He usually goes for goal.
34′ Walcott fouls Cole down the left flank, and Chelsea will have a good chance from the left edge of the box.
33′ GOAL! Eboue loses his goodwill with the fans as he gets caught out of position after Malouda gets a long pass on the edge of the box from Lampard. Eboue doesn’t close him down and Malouda beats Fabianski easily. Not a good moment for Arsenal there…
31′ Cole lobbies for a foul as he tries to make the run down the left flank, but no call from the ref. That draws a cheer from the Arsenal fans.
30′ Wow, it’s been ten years since Anelka left Arsenal. That makes me feel old…
29′ Long pass from Van Persie to Walcott, and he’s beaten Terry and Alex to it. He fires a low shot that Cech saves, but it’s no matter since he’s ruled offside. On the replay, it looks like he was on, but it was close.
28′ Ballack looks a little wound-up and he hits Diaby with a hard tackle. That situation bears some watching…
26′ Lampard threads a great pass through to Drogba, and he wastes it by curling a shot that’s over the crossbar.
25′ Diaby makes a good run down the left and beats Ballack. He centers it inside the box to Van Persie, but he slips and can’t get his shot off. The pitch doesn’t look like it’s in the best shape.
24′ They show the goal again, and it looked like Cech got his hands on it and was well positioned for the save had it not been for Cole’s slight touch. Oh, the irony…
23′ Lampard tries to test Fabianski from long-range, but his shot is easily saved. Why not?
22′ Cole does well to keep the ball alive after Eboue challenges him. Malouda picks up on it after the Arsenal back four stop playing and start motioning to the refs for an offside. Malouda almost makes them pay and tries to shoot to the far post. Fabianski looks awkward and is well beaten, but the shot is wide of the post.
21′ Some fireworks between Ballack and Van Persie, and Ballack seems to shove him a little bit. No cards, though, and it really didn’t look like a big enough deal to merit any intervention from the refs.
20′ Drogba goes down and the ref is not convinced. However, play does stop and the Arsenal fans are less than thrilled.
18′ GOAL! Fabregas sends a nice pass to Adebayor down the left wing, and he lays it off to Gibbs. He sends a long cross across the face of the goal to the far post for an unmarked Walcott. He volleys it on target, and Cech is easily beaten for the goal! Terrible defending from Chelsea as Anelka completely lost Gibbs and Cole looked like he got a slight deflection on it with his hand.
16′ Ballack picks Denilson’s pocket and he’s got a good counter-attack going. He lays it off to Drogba inside the box, but his first touch takes him away from goal and allows Toure to close him down. Drogba tries a shot/cross but Fabianski takes it easily.
15′ Not a good effort from the Dutchman, as it trickles harmlessly into the box and barely troubles the men in blue.
14′ Arsenal on the attack and Walcott draws a foul from Lampard. It’s on the right edge of the field and about 45 yards out, so we’ll see if Van Persie fancies a go with his left foot.
13′ Toure with a dangerous long-pass into the box for Adebayor. It looks to give Terry and Alex some problems, but they recover in time and knock it away.
12′ Looks like each side is still feeling the other out and, not surprisingly, neither side has established much of a rhythm yet.
11′ Lampard will swing it from about 40 yards out on the left wing. It’s nothing doing as Chelsea are called for a foul inside the box.
10′ Will Alex thump it in or will Lampard try and serve it into the box? It’s Alex and he takes a crack, but it’s blocked by the wall. Toure then hits Cole with a hard tackle, and that draws a huge ovation from the Arsenal fans. Man, do they hold a grudge or what?
9′ Essien is fouled by Diaby and Chelsea will have a free kick from about 40 yards out or so.
8′ They pan to the stands, and there are a lot of Arsenal players in street-clothes. I heard Rosicky tore his ACL walking up the stairs, but I can’t confirm that.
7′ Lampard and Ballack seem intent on giving it away in their own half with some dangerous passes back to their defenders. Not sure what they’re trying to do there.
5′ Chelsea’s corner comes to nothing as Arsenal clear it away from danger. Back the other way and Walcott makes a menacing run into the box, taking on his international skipper, Terry. The center-back is up for it, though, and he takes it away easily.
4′ Fabianski with a terrible howler as he comes way off his line to try and collect a ball and Drogba challenges him in the air! The striker will win most of those, and he heads it over Fabianski and it’s heading towards goal! Only Gibbs’ timely intervention keeps it from going in! Chelsea will have a corner. What was he thinking?
3′ Anelka gives it away to Fabregas and Arsenal go on the attack. Adebayor loses it at the end-line, and it’ll be a goal-kick for Cech.
2′ Ultimately, the slip comes to nothing. Still, that shouldn’t help Cech’s shaky confidence any.
1′ Arsenal kick off and we’re underway! Martin Atkinson is our ref. Essien makes an early challenge on Fabregas. That should be an interesting contest today. Meanwhile, Cech tries to pass it to Ivanovic, but a slip on the edge of the box gives Chelsea some early problems.
0′ I guess the Fabregas spitting incident against Hull in the Quarterfinals came to nothing.
0′ Classy gesture as they commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster. Fabregas and Terry present bouquets to a couple of victims’ parents.
0′ Joe Cole walks out of the tunnel and takes his seat in the stands before his teammates emerge. Boy, do Chelsea miss him, or what?
0′ Lot of people are down on the whole Wembley thing, but I think it’s kind of cool. Neutral field so neither side gets lucky and scores home-field on a coin toss. Plus, it’s Wembley. It’s only the biggest venue and stage in England…
0′ I’ve been hard on Eboue in the past, but I think he could be a big factor today. He’s always played well in that right-back role, and if he can settle into a comfort zone, then he could have a great game.
0′ Looks like Wenger has come to the same conclusion that many of us had come to and he can’t figure out how to play Arshavin, Van Persie, and Fabregas together. Still, Arshavin is an intriguing late-match option, especially if this match goes into extra time, which I’m betting that it will.
0′ Wow, Setanta Broadband has upgraded their site considerably! The quality is much better than before and the interface is excellent! Too bad they’re losing most of their coverage next year…
0′ Hello everyone! Welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the F.A. Cup Semifinal between Arsenal and Chelsea! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger. I’m watching this match on Setanta Broadband. For information on how to access that fine service, feel free to consult this article. Click here for other, free, options.
It wasn’t the best or the most exciting match, but it’s no matter as Chelsea will cherish this hard-earned victory over a determined Arsenal team. Chelsea settled down after a shaky start, and outplayed Arsenal for the balance of the match. After conceding 8 goals in about two hours, Chelsea hunkered down and played well on defense. Cech still doesn’t look like the man that was once considered to be the greatest goalie in the world, but he played much better than he did against Liverpool or Bolton. Ashley Cole showed his club why he’s so valuable, as well as how much they’ll miss him in the first leg against Barcelona, as he played excellent defense against both Walcott and Eboue. Hiddink still seems like he’s not sure about the Anelka/Drogba pairing, and today’s effort won’t convince him to keep Anelka in the lineup. However, Chelsea generated the best chances and pounced on Arsenal’s mistakes in the back. Most importantly, they have a great chance at winning the F.A. Cup and have an outside chance at a treble. Who would have thought that a few months ago?
As for Arsenal, Fabianski’s woes definitely cost his team, however there was plenty of blame to go around. Fabregas pulled a no-show as Essien and Ballack did a great job marking him and preventing him from getting involved in the Arsenal attack. Van Persie didn’t play well and probably should have sat out in favor of the in-form Arshavin. Adebayor did nothing, and for once, you could argue that subbing him out for Bendtner wasn’t that big of a downgrade. Denilson and Diaby, once again, proved why Wenger was wrong to let Hleb and Flamini walk. And, of course, the less said about the defense, the better. Toure had a good match, but, Eboue and Silvestre were terrible while Gibbs was only slightly mediocre. Still, Arsenal can take heart in knowing that, despite their sloppy play and their depleted roster, they were in this match until the end. It won’t be much solace to the silverware starved fans, however, and Wenger’s questionable tactics will put him under some pressure.
Man of the Match:
Not too many candidates, as it wasn’t a very well-played match. Lots of no-shows (especially on the Arsenal end), and many of Chelsea’s players were up-and-down all day long. Still, Lampard stood out and had an excellent game, showing off his long-range passing as he assisted on both goals. He, Essien, and Ballack did well to neutralize Arsenal’s midfield, especially Fabregas, who was barely involved all game long. I was tempted to go with Fabianski, who was clearly the best player for Chelsea, but that would be cruel.